A GROUP of about 40 residents held a public forum to discuss the biggest issues facing the agricultural industry yesterday.
Moorabool Shire Council mayor Paul Tatchell was one attendee who expressed concerns that towns in his region were being treated as part of Melbourne rather than as regional agricultural towns.
The group put questions to Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh yesterday afternoon on a wide range of issues, including the battles of peri-urban areas, differential rates, exporting goods and product labelling.
Cr Tatchell said he was happy with the fact a public meeting had been held to cover the issues.
“We sometimes get forgotten because they think we are part of the city, but we are agricultural,” he said.
“It puts everything back in focus and it gives people who are not agricultural but live in the region, it gives them a better understanding of the region they live in.”
Cr Tatchell said the meeting was one of several held to help get the message across that the agricultural industry still needed help.
“Every week I am out there banging my drum saying don’t forget about us,” he said.
The gathering was organised by Nationals candidate for Buninyong Sonia Smith, who said it was important to support farmers in the food sector.
The meeting also launched a regional branding initiative designed to help the region’s food producers distinguish their goods from others.
“Regional branding is the path to building niche markets and commanding premium prices,” Ms Smith said.
“We are a high-cost producer and this is the only way we can compete.
“Being clean, green, and able to trace our food from paddock to plate puts us in the category of world class.”